Knicks forward Julius Randle likely played his last game this season

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle is likely done this season.

Randle was ruled out of today’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers due to a lingering sore quad. The announcement came one day after the Knicks were officially eliminated from postseason contention.

“He’s out. Most likely, he’s out the rest of the way. He’s had this nagging thing going on for a while,” Thibodeau told reporters before the matinee game against the Cavaliers.

Toppin will replace Randle in the starting lineup, marking his sixth start this season.

If Randle has played his last game, he will finish the season averaging 20.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 5.1 assists with a 41/31/76 shooting split. His numbers are down across the board compared to his All-NBA Second Team campaign last season, in which he averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists with a 46/41/81 shooting split, all career-highs. His turnovers (3.2 per game) remained the same.

Randle’s inconsistent effort and penchant for inviting troubles, whether with the referees or the fan base, is a microcosm of what went wrong with the Knicks this season — a disappointing sequel to their inspiring playoff run last year. He reiterated his desire to remain as a Knick long-term in the wake of the trade request rumor last Wednesday.

Randle signed a four-year extension worth up to $117 million last summer that will kick in next season. The Knicks front office tried to build around him, adding Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. But he struggled to adjust with his new teammates, shot creators who need the ball in their hands.

Walker has since severed his ties with the Knicks. Randle joins other veterans, Nerlens Noel (left foot) and Derrick Rose (right ankle), on the sidelines.

“The other guys will keep going. Our young guys are nicked up a little bit right now, too. So, we want to make sure they’re healthy when they’re going to be back out there,” Thibodeau added.

Rookies Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride, both with sore right knees, will also sit out Saturday. They also join Knicks’ mid-season acquisition Cam Reddish (right shoulder) at sickbay.

The Knicks have four more games after Saturday matinee against the Cavaliers.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Did the Yankees strike gold with veteran relief signing? | Supplementing the loss of Zack Britton

Manny Bañuelos, New York Yankees

Trying to supplement the loss of Zack Britton was always going to be a major challenge for New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. Britton is regarded as one of the best relief arms in baseball, but he is likely to miss virtually the entire 2022 season after succumbing to Tommy John surgery.

Finding cheaper relief arms with upside and relying on youth prospects seems to be the strategy, but they might have struck gold with 31-year-old relief pitcher, Manny Banuelos.

Banuelos featured with the Chicago White Sox back in 2019, making his last appearance in the majors. Over 50.2 innings, Banuelos hosted a 6.93 ERA and 7.82 strikeouts per 9. In fact, Banuelos featured with the Yankees between 2008–2014, reaching their Triple-A affiliate. Banuelos flashed solid attributed before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013, disrupting his progression.

However, the Yankees have brought him back and given him reps this spring training, posting a 0.00 ERA over three appearances, allowing two hits and striking out seven batters. Banuelos averaged a 91.7 mph fastball back in his heyday and mixed in a slider, curveball, and change-up. Banuelos had great potential before the injury with a solid array of pitches to utilize.

The veteran relief arm spent time in the Chinese professional baseball league and Mexican league before making the transition back to the MLB.

Against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night, Banuelos lasted three innings, allowing two hits, striking out three batters and not giving up a single walk over 33 pitches.

Featuring a lefty arm, the hope is he can offer a bit of diversity in the bullpen and help supplement the loss of Britton this year. It is a tall task for a player who has struggled considerably when called upon, but Brian Cashman has managed to strike gold on players before who still have gas left in the tank.

Mets get crushing injury news, as they will be without their ace for most of the first half

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The New York Mets will be without their best pitcher for a big portion of the first half, at the very least. It was revealed, after an MRI on Friday, that the star right-hander is dealing with a stress reaction in his scapula, which caused inflammation in the area and resulted in shoulder tightness after a session of catch.

As a result of the diagnosis, the Mets decided to shut down their ace for at least four weeks. After that timeline, he will be reevaluated and another MRI will be performed in the affected area. If there is significant improvement, he will be allowed to restart a throwing program.

The Mets, therefore, suffer their first tough blow of the year and the season hasn’t even started yet. Newcomer Max Scherzer will now be tasked with leading the rotation until deGrom is ready to come back.

“Everybody has adversity,” general manager Billy Eppler said, per the Mets official site. “Everybody does. Every team, all the time. So you deal with these things. Would we have loved to have had Jake out there on Opening Day? Yeah, absolutely. But we understand that this is what teams go through. So that’s what we’ll do. We’ll manage it and move forward.”

deGrom could realistically return to the Mets in two months

If the follow-up MRI taken a month from now comes back clean, deGrom will likely need another month to ramp up and stretch out enough to start an MLB game. So, in reality, we won’t see deGrom on an MLB mound before June.

“He’s disappointed,” Eppler said. “We’re disappointed. Everybody’s sharing the disappointment right now. Nobody’s immune to that.”

The Mets rotation will now have Scherzer, Chris Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker, and the winner of a battle that includes Tylor Megill, David Peterson, and Trevor Williams.

“[deGrom] is really good at what he does, and we won’t have that for a period of time, but now an opportunity presents itself for somebody to step forward,” manager Buck Showalter said.

How much salary space do the New York Giants need to sign their 2022 Draft class?

new york giants, joe schoen

The New York Giants are facing somewhat of a problematic situation regarding their salary space. According to the NFLPA public salary cap report, the Giants have just $1.56 million available to spend, and with the 2022 NFL Draft quickly approaching, they need to clear about $15 million more just to sign their draft class.

Management has been dabbling with the idea of trading No. 1 corner James Bradberry, which would clear $11.7 million in salary space, but they will also have to restructure a few contracts to open up the necessary funds.

According to Spotrac, the Giants need about $16.2 million to sign their draft class this year, making the return from Bradberry essential to their plans. There are a few other ways they can clear salary space, including trading Saquon Barkley and his $7.2 million cap hit or restructuring the contracts of Leonard Williams and Kenny Golladay.

Schoen has already indicated that the Giants don’t want to push more money down the road, but they have a tremendous amount of salary space opening up next off-season. In fact, the team currently projects to have almost $100 million in salary space, which could amount to even more if they cut several players. Releasing Williams next year would clear $18 million off the cap and $12 million for Adoree Jackson.

Essentially, the Giants will lay the foundation with their draft picks this year, hoping to land several impact players in the early rounds. Because the Giants have two first-round picks, which will both earn around $4.5 million during their rookie seasons, they have to clear ample salary space in preparation.

One way the Giants can lower the $16.2 million number is by trading back in the first round, adding more draft capital for the 2023 draft, or even later on during this year’s draft. They could theoretically lower one of those cap hits to around $2.5 million if they went back as far as 20.

However, it seems the Giants are planning to snag the top offensive tackle and pass rusher available unless a tremendous haul is presented from a team looking to acquire one of the top-rated quarterbacks.

The Giants may actually get their value back with Davis Webb after all

davis webb, new york giants

The New York Giants seem to be in the middle of the full rebuild, but they’re still committed to building around Daniel Jones this upcoming season. Providing Jones with physical and mental support has been the goal for GM Joe Schoen and HC Brian Daboll. Aside from bolstering the offensive line, the Giants have brought in former 3rd round pick during the Jerry Reese era, Davis Webb, to serve as the 3rd string quarterback.

Webb, who has only played in one regular-season game since being drafted in 2017, has played an instrumental role in helping his team on the back-end, using his intelligence and work ethic to elevate those around him.

In fact, the Buffalo Bills asked Webb if he would join their coaching staff, retiring from the game as a player. Webb decided to continue playing, which was likely a financial decision, but one that will benefit the Giants.

“He’s unbelievable with his teammates in terms of off the field, studying,” Daboll said, per Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com. “He would meet with Josh (Allen) every Friday night and go through our call sheet and organize it. (He’s a) great sounding board and a really good competitor.”

Webb clearly offers the starting quarterback exponential value, presenting a sounding board with knowledge of the entire playbook to help understand protection schemes and route concepts.

It’s interesting to see Daboll reference Webb as a big part of Josh Allen’s success, which plays into the idea that it “takes a village to raise a quarterback.”

Daboll remains invested in Webb, instilling the belief that there’s more value left to untap.

“He’s a third-round QB that was raised in a football family,” Daboll said, “and I just think there’s something untapped there.”

The likely scenario is that Webb ends up coaching Daniel Jones rather than gaining a legitimate opportunity to play n the regular season. Daboll likely didn’t want to lose his value behind the scenes, which is why he scooped him up quickly this off-season.

Yankees News: Catcher position suffers Opening Day blow, young pitcher ready to make impact in 2022

Ben Rortvedt, yankees

The New York Yankees are still trying to iron out the roster over the next few days, with Opening Day just around the bend. Minor injuries have taken their toll early in camp, but nothing debilitating, so far (knock on wood).

The notable injured players are Ben Rortvedt, recently acquired catcher from the Twins, and Luis Severino, who’s been dealing with general soreness lately. Rortvedt’s oblique issues came with him in the trade that sent Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela out west.

“I’m making strides. Today I felt a lot better than the last live (batting practice) so I feel good,” Rortvedt said, via Kristie Ackert of the NY Daily News. “I hit (tossed balls) the other day and kind of still going day by day, kind of reading the body, but catching wise I feel good and just trying to slowly work in the swing. Still trying to be smart about it so it doesn’t linger. Not bad. We just don’t want any setbacks so we’re trying to really give it time.”

Rortvedt is making progress slowly. The Yankees are high on the former Twin, despite posting a lackluster batting average last season during a small sample size of MLB action. He’s also not much of a power hitter, despite being jacked. In fact, he doesn’t really fit the team’s mold at all, aside from being great defensively and still hosting a questionable arm.

The Yankees will roll with Kyle Higashioka primarily as the starter, which makes sense given his success this spring. Higgy is hitting .450 with five homers this spring over 20 at-bats, hopefully foreshadowing a dominant campaign.

The Yankees are finally ready to rely on Albert Abreu a bit more in 2022:

The Bombers are still trying to determine their pitchers for the start of the regular season, but Aaron Boone did confirm that relief arm Albert Abreu would be on the team.

“Albert’s out of options, and coupled with coming off what he did last year, I feel like he’s doing good here for us so far this spring,” Boone said.
Abreu posted a 5.15 ERA over 28 games last season, totaling 36.2 innings. He also recorded a 4.50 SIERA and averaged a 97.8 mph fastball, which is perfect for the team’s preference. If Abreu can offer significant value this upcoming season, it would smooth over the loss of Zack Britton, who’s projected to miss virtually the entire year.